The Lord of the Rings: Gollum is shaping up to be the game as its developers had always wanted. That is, by featuring a stealth mechanics that are reminiscent of “Prince of Persia” and story-oriented branching narratives that add to the game’s replay interest.
Much of the installments in The Lord of the Rings franchise are ones that centered towards action. But rightfully so, as the world of Middle-Earth is indeed action-packed, taking root at the source material. Seeing that the latest entry in its games becoming less focused on action, but rather on stealth, while trying to set a narrative that will precede and complement the book seamlessly, truly makes for a refreshing experience.
Gollum as Protagonist
Featuring the titular Gollum himself years after possessing the ring of power, the game is partly about surviving a hostile world using means that does not involve direct combat. Because, just like his depiction from the books and movies, Gollum was never really the fighting kind, unless he’s completely insane.
However, what better way to attain such feat than to work in the shadow, ideally beyond anyone’s awareness? For Gollum, this task is feasible, thanks in part to his small and nimble body as well as a cunning mindset.
Getting from point A to point B may be the game’s major highlight. But, at times, it is also about being secretly offensive, which by taking advantage of Gollum’s moderately deranged mindset, is he able to do against opponents with enough fierceness. Other times, with the help of allies whom he will encounter along the way.
Lead game designer, Martin Wilkes, best describes it as a “mostly a non-combat game.” Nevertheless, one that does not rule out stealth to “take out enemies.”
Choices and Their Relevance
However, for a protagonist who inherently embodies two opposite characters, choices make for a significant aspect of the game as well. Players can expect to pick between two choices from time to time, which is essentially both Smeagol and Gollum, making their own unique in situations that call for them.
Smeagol, being the gentler persona, expectedly offering nicer options. Whereas Gollum, the corrupted persona, unsurprisingly giving out meaner choices.
As exciting as that sounds, the impact of decisions players make may not be drastically impactful to the story being told. Being a prequel to the book, the game still sticks to constraints. Some limitations that substantially prevent it from going beyond its domain as a starting point.
As such, players can expect to not come to a choice that would compromise the whole of Middle-Earth, possibly due to poor decisions. Otherwise, putting a stop to an epic story even before it starts in the book. But they can anticipate meaningful influences to certain NPCs. The effect of which commensurate on the quality of their choices given the situations that invoke them.
Image used courtesy of IGN/YouTube Screenshot